2017-11-30 / Milestones

A reason for the season — sans madness

By Allison Byerley

Allison Byerley Allison Byerley Thanksgiving has come and gone and, like thoroughbreds out of a starting gate, the shoppers are off! Somewhere, there is a countdown with how many shopping days are left to Christmas. Are you stressed out yet? Don’t worry — you will be!

A few years ago I discovered the humor of Bob Rivers, who creates parodies of traditional Christmas carols. One of my favorites is “The Twelve Pains of Christmas,” sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

It captures the stress of the season beautifully. The pains range from finding the perfect Christmas tree, hanging up the lights, addressing the Christmas cards, tired whiney children, finding a parking space and facing all the bills. I laugh every time I listen to it, and it helps me find perspective as the days to Christmas countdown.

Two friends met for lunch one December day. One woman’s life was in turmoil and the holiday frenzy made everything worse. She was at the end of her rope and needed the wisdom of her friend who had weathered her own crises.

“I’ve lost any sense of peace or serenity or joy,” she told her friend. “I don’t know what I’m going to do!”

“The world can’t give you serenity,” the friend told her. “The world can’t give you peace or joy. We can only find those in our hearts. That’s the bad news. The good news is, by the same token, the world can’t take them away either.”

Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” ( John 14:27).

If your holiday feels like it is out of control, if it has become all about finding the perfect gift and attending every party and spending money you don’t have, stop, take a deep breath and pray for that peace Jesus promises.

I hope you find the joy that came into the world with the birth of the baby Jesus. The bad news is that you won’t find it at a mall or under the tree wrapped in a bow. The good news is that it has already been given to us in God’s gift of his Son.

Every year, people urge us to remember the reason for the season and to put Christ back into Christmas. Perhaps if we followed their advice, we would let go of the things that stress us out so much and find instead the joy and peace proclaimed by the angels when they announced Jesus’ birth.

I wish you peace, serenity and joy in this Christmas season.

Allison Byerley is pastor of the Mariposa United Methodist Church and can be reached at adbyerley@gmail.com.

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